Camber Castle was one of the first castles on the Great British Island to be completely loaded and defended only by big gun powered cannons.
Up until the second part of the 16th century, the area between Rye and Winchelsea, in the far southeast of England, was just a shallow harbor called Camber. Along the coastline there were series of small shingle banks but no real serious defensive fortification. Around the year 1513, Sir Edward Guildford built the first kind of fortification on the shore. It was a circular tower right at the end of one of the shingle banks where it could warn the mainland of any incoming naval attacks from the south and try to buy as much time as possible.
Around two decades later, a serious threat was felt on the island nation. The Englishmen led by their Protestant King Henry VIII were afraid of an invasion coming from the south by Catholic France and Spain. As part of his plans to improve coastal defenses, the king decided to upgrade the existing turret on the banks of Camber and build a castle around it.
By the time the castle was finished, it had already become obsolete. The reason being progress in science and construction knowledge in Europe. Fortifications all over the oldest continent were switching to the new highly regarded angular design (a sort of star shaped fortresses). And the former circular style with curved bastions was being abandoned and rendered far less practical in defending.
The castle stood tall and defended the shores of Camber for a very short time. By 1637 the soldiers keeping guard were disbanded and the garrison inside the castle was abandoned as well. Since then not a brick or stone has been added to Camber Castle. Many other Henrician forts of the time have been preserved and, some more some less, modified over the centuries. But not this one. To this day the original design of Camber Castle remains.
At some point in history when the Great British Empire was building Martello Towers all over the world, this castle was considered to be converted into one too. But after a survey done by Lieutenant Colonel John Brown in 1804 he rendered the castle not fitting for the desired design.
At the beginning of the 20th century the castle and it’s surroundings were still private property but open for visitors and travelers. Somewhere around 1930s there was a plan to convert the fortification and the area around it into a series of golf courses. For better or worse this didn’t happen and the golf clubhouse was built a bit further away from Camber Castle grounds. The castle still remained without a purpose and was highly overlooked and ignored.
The government took control of Camber Castle and the surrounding area in 1967. Soon after, a campaign of restoration and renovation of the area was launched. Archaeological excavations were part of the process and many other long term research projects started in that period. The main focus was largely to get the castle into shape so that it could be reopened for the public as a touristic attraction, and also to revive its historical heritage.
Camber Castle grounds were and still are quite a popular place for picnics and other outdoor activities. Due to the nature reserve the castle lies in, it makes a great place for bird watching as there are many many different maritime birds. The place is also loaded with marsh flowers and all kinds of different butterflies. What a place for a nature aficionados to visit!